The Adaptive Internship Experience:
A Perspective from Sydney W.
During the summer and fall of 2020, I had the great pleasure of working as a digital marketing and communications associate on Adaptive Biotechnologies’ Corporate Marketing and Communications Team. My role consisted of creating content to communicate the science behind the company’s immune medicine platform – using social media to share that information broadly. During my time at Adaptive, I came to learn the inextricable connection between clinical medicine, biotechnological advancement, and the patient story. My advice to all incoming interns is this: be open-minded and eager to learn anything and everything you can from those around you. Whatever your desired career trajectory, the lessons you learn and knowledge you acquire while working at Adaptive will carry forward through anything you do.
As a pre-medical student at Vanderbilt University studying Medicine, Health, and Society, I had originally anticipated spending my summer working in a hospital setting to gain clinical exposure. However, the unforeseen circumstances surrounding the onset of COVID-19 restricted my ability to do so, and I began seeking other ways to make a meaningful impact on patients’ lives. I stepped into my role at Adaptive as it turned its technology toward decoding the immune response to COVID-19 and contributing to vaccine research, watching as the urgent relevance of immune medicine became clear to the world at large. As the pandemic response unfolded, I spent my time writing about Adaptive’s discoveries related to COVID-19. Whether explaining the basic workings of the adaptive immune system or describing the vital role of T cells in conferring long-term immunity to SARS-CoV-2, I was comforted knowing my work was augmenting the general public’s understanding and contributing to the fight against the pandemic.
During my time at Adaptive, I became fascinated by the potential of utilizing the immune system as a natural diagnostic and therapeutic tool in biomedical research. I was inspired to continue exploring the impact of immunological discoveries in a clinical setting. When I returned to Vanderbilt’s campus in the Spring of 2021, I began working as an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the Bohannon Lab at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to investigate immunomodulatory therapies for the prevention of infection and sepsis in patients with burn and other critical injuries. In my gap year following graduation and prior to attending medical school, I plan to work as a Research Fellow in the Marciscano Lab at Weill Cornell Medicine to discover and validate novel, effective, and potentially synergistic combinations of radiotherapy and immunotherapy for treating cancer.
As I venture into medical school and beyond, I will carry forward all I’ve learned from working at Adaptive. Effectively translating scientific concepts into digestible information for various audiences honed my science writing and communication skills. As a prospective physician, it’s imperative for me to adapt medical knowledge to connect with patients, allowing for effective treatment. My time at Adaptive taught me that a unique story is unfolding inside every patient’s body. Great physicians know how to both listen to and tell that story.
One thing that stood out for me during that summer – the people. I cannot speak highly enough of the bright, dynamic, and welcoming individuals with whom I worked. They immediately made me feel comforted and supported, which gave me the confidence to live out my potential on the team and make meaningful contributions that built upon my colleagues’ work. Adaptive is an incredible place to explore the promise of immune medicine, partake in groundbreaking biotechnological pursuits to improve patient outcomes, and witness the workings of the healthcare industry.
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